Arielle O'Keefe From E!'s Opening Act Tells Us What It's Like to Be Discovered.
Reality television is known for being unkind. From Simon Cowell's scathing put-downs to Gordon Ramsay's furious temper tantrums, sometimes the most popular story is one of failure.
That's why Opening Act, E!'s new music-focused reality show, is particularly interesting. There are no winners or losers, just one lucky musician carefully selected to vigorously train to be the opening act for a famous musician.
The show is produced by Nigel Lithgow (from So You Think You Can Dance and American Idol), and features an “artist development team” including Jason Derulo, Martina McBride and Pete Wentz.
Each episode, the development team picks an act from Internet obscurity and has five days to groom the selected musician into someone capable of playing in front of a large crowd.
Last night's premiere episode focused on 21-year-old Allen native Arielle O'Keefe, who was “ambushed” at Dallas' Opening Bell Coffee and told she would be opening for Rod Stewart at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. And before last night's episode aired, we had the chance to speak with Arielle about her discovery, her days spent living with cameras and her hopes for what will happen in the future.
So you were discovered by the show because they came across one of your YouTube videos?
Yeah! They just found videos of me performing online. I had a YouTube channel, and I just put a bunch of videos up. I guess they found those and liked what they saw.
That was all they needed to see to know that they wanted you on the show?
I guess so, yeah! It was a complete surprise to me. They didn't talk to my manager or anyone. They just literally saw my videos online.
How long had you been making music before you got on the show?
I've been making music my whole life. I've always been a musician. In 2010, I left school and started pursuing music as a full-time job. I really got into it.
Were you nervous about what would happen to your career?
I was so excited! I've been waiting for an opportunity like this forever. I was so ready. They told me, “You're opening for Rod Stewart in five days, we're flying you to L.A. right now. Get your stuff and pack. We're going.” It was very quick and very out of nowhere. I was just ready to go. I was so excited about it.
Was it stressful?
It was incredibly stressful. I went through what a regular musician would go through in several months in five days. The process was sped up dramatically. It was very emotional and a total rollercoaster. It was definitely worth it, but yes, very stressful.
How was it being on camera constantly?
We got comfortable with it real fast because they're constantly filming. I was constantly mic'd up. They surprised me, and I understood that I was about to go on. I told myself just go into this and be 100 percent confident, don't worry about any of that. I didn't worry about the cameras being there. I just did what I had to do.
Is there anything you had difficulty with?
I had a really great vocal lesson. The vocal coach came on and he put me to work, and it ended up being a two-hour-long vocal lesson. That was very emotional, and it got out a lot for me. It ended up being a really, really great thing.
What was it like opening for Rod Stewart?
It was definitely one of the big, defining moments of my life. It was huge.
Where do you go from here, now? Has this opened some doors for you?
Yeah, hopefully. I've been doing a whole lot more. I've been trying to get songs out on iTunes. I just did my first music video, and I'm working on the second one. I'm just kind of riding with this show. I mean, who knows what's going to happen when it airs? At the very least, a few more people will know my name. Who knows? I try not to have expectations, but I am hopeful. The experience alone, and how it helped me grow as an artist, is irreplaceable. I'm so much more confident, and I'm so much more ready. I know now that I can do what I need to do to get where I want to be. That will help me grow. As far as my career, though, I've made a whole lot of great connections.